Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

To sum up what I have tried to say: The Japanese population will remain with us. We should treat it with justice, decency, and respect. The three great points of objection that have been urged against the Japanese are (1) that they crowd out other labor and lower the standard of living; (2) that they are increasing and will increase by an abnormally rapid birth-rate; (3) that they are nonassimilable. None of the three contains a serious threat. In Japanese life here there are agencies good in themselves and helpful in the control and assimilation of our Japanese population. Among them are three, which are often misrepresented, but which are wholesome: the Japanese Associations, the Japanese school, the Buddhist temple. All are legitimate, but suspicion and hostility are so strong that the school and temple are likely soon to disappear. In the Japanese Association, however, we have an agency of incalculable value, that deserves the heartiest sympathy and support. Its chief functions are to harmonize, to work toward mutual understanding, to Americanize.

A MESSAGE TO TAKE HOME WITH YOU

Halsted Ritter, President, American Association

of Community Organizations, Denver

I have been interested in the magnitude and the personnel of this conference. For some months many of the public who are not social workers, like myself, have been wondering what sort of people would come to Denver for this week. We now know that Denver never had an assemblage as seriously intellectual as this. A woman who runs a café nearby which has been popular with the women attending this convention said the other day that in all her history never has she had such a fine lot of women in her place. This convention would impress anyone who gives a minute's consideration to it that the men and women engaged in social work in this country have a determined purpose to help needy humanity.

You assemble here, just as you have assembled in other places during the last fifty-two years, and it seems to me there must be a great accumulation of experience, a vaster knowledge of policy, and an increased community of interest which is going to contribute something definite to the welfare of the American people. What is it? That question has been asked time and again in Denver. I have asked many people attending this convention about it. Are these great social forces operating in this country destined to accomplish a great work in the near future because of the preparation of the years past, and the accumulation of facts, and the experiments carried on in many places? Is it not time that there came out of this national conference and the forces represented some great outstanding effect upon the American nation? I have a conviction of what that ought to be, and I am not alone in that conviction, as it has been expressed

by many people during the past week, and I am going to give it to you tonight for your consideration, and as the idea you may take home with you.

The prosperity and the happiness of the American nation lies largely in the cities and towns of this country. The roots of our American liberty lie deep in our municipalities. There are found the great masses of the population, our great newspapers, our book and magazine publishers; there you find the great banking and financial institutions; there are our industries, and the political and social forces which direct the currents of American progress. There are, also, the swamps of misery, of crime, and corruption which broadcast the influences of evil. There are the centers out of which come the leaders in all lines of thought and action. We may, in our American policy, forget state lines and lengthen out the arm of the national government, but the people will ever hold inviolate the principle of local self-government as exemplified in our municipalities. That is the great institution in our American life. Our cities must lift themselves out of the troubles in which they find themselves. Once in a while a city rises up and turns things over and then the good people lapse back into complacency, and vice and corruption and misery spring up again. Vice, misery, disease may be checked for a while, but they are always rising up again at the first opportunity. The reason we have not maintained permanently good government in our cities and towns and held the advance in better things is because after a reform there seems nothing for good people to do to hold the position which they have gained by their spasmodic action. But social service, social science, developing in this country, has drawn into its fold thousands of citizens in all of our cities and towns for an all-the-year-round work of betterment. So that the forces of good are now lined up for a steady hold upon our cities and towns, constantly on guard against the very active forces of evil, and by reason of the drawing into activity of the citizens of our communities through social work and social institutions and social welfare, we are developing a power in our American cities which must contribute ultimately to the stabilizing of them, and thus reach our nation and the development of that civilization we boast of. We are learning in our cities that health and sanitation, child and family welfare, hospitalization, and other means of welfare are as much a part of civil government as water and light, and police and fire departments. Chambers of commerce, boards of trade, and city councils now listen in many places to the advice of the social welfare leaders in a city program. Our cities have never considered that the humanities of government were just as important, just as much a function of municipal life, as these other functions and political elements, and we have left to the politician the job of going down into the so-called "poor districts" and there using the social idea of helpfulness and relief to maintain his political power. I heard a good woman, when I was in Toronto last year, in addressing a division of the conference, tell how, in a certain district in Chicago where the neighborhood house was endeavoring to work out a program among the people, she went into politics and defeated the ward boss, for the

purpose of establishing the political leadership of that house so that it might lead the people into liberty, and a broader view of things, and self-help. I am not advocating that social workers should go into politics, although I think the time will come to throw the forces of social betterment into the political game, perhaps, when absolutely necessary. (But I know that idea is not popular.) I have great admiration for that woman.

Our cities are getting better. Our slums are disappearing, due to the activity of social forces. The leaders of industry, operating great plants, have come to view welfare of employees and sanitation as of great economic value, and our cities must come to view these social forces as of money value in the community. The people are ready to contribute the money for this work in the cities as soon as they can see a program.

Now you will ask, what am I getting at? This: that this conference, spread out as it is through its many branches, must sooner or later concentrate upon a program, and the place to put this into effect is in the cities and towns of this country. In these places the union of these social forces upon a city-wide program backed by a union of the business element, of the chambers of commerce, and the city councils, working out a common program attacking the forces that drag down community life, will regenerate our cities, will put strength and vigor into the foundations of our American life, will put vigor into our American system, sending an influence up through the state and into the nation—yes, and into the world at large. The time must come in the near future when this National Conference, or these agencies represented in its membership, everywhere must consider some form of union in our municipal life. I do not care under what name, whether community chest, or community welfare, or whatever other name it may be; the name doesn't count. It is the object, the purpose that counts. It is the attacking of the forces of evil, lined up for their own preservation. How can an army, broken up into divisions, fight against the enemy? How could they ever win a victory? The most unselfish people in the world are the social workers. You work, for the love of humanity, on just a bare living wage. The same spirit of unselfishness must enter into your cooperation in the working out together of this program, and the idea that your particular line of work is the only means of accomplishing the end, must not stand in the way of your ultimate combination for the accomplishing of a great end. If I am wrong, you will correct me in my thinking. These social workers in our cities and towns which are now interested, understanding the common life and welfare, can work out a program before long which will draw to it the support of all the cities and towns, and will offer a place to the social worker far better than he now has. Say, you desire to clean up a town; is it not better to work with all the stabilizing and helpful forces than to go it alone? There is no doubt that the social worker will, by working up a large program, win a place in our American life. I am asking social workers to look a little farther than the present day and hour, beyond the present job, to that day when your work-added to

[graphic]

the work of every other social worker-for war upon the forces of evil will produce a power that is overwhelming. I like that definition of social work which is given by the New York School of Philanthropy, which says that "organized social work is the effort of public and private agencies to improve conditions of life in the community, whether through the relief and care of individuals in distress, or through the removal of causes of adversity and the enjoyment of opportunity necessary for normal living."

Ladies and gentlemen, this social force must not be like the river Jordan which flows into the Dead Sea, but like the river Yukon, gathering to itself the waters of many streams, collecting as it flows such great power and strength that it drives back the waters of the salty sea ten miles from its mouth. So through the country this stream of social work and community work must unite to push back the forces which are trying to destroy our civilization.

« AnteriorContinuar »